Former detective reveals possible charges Carlee Russell could face after disappearance hoax

Carlee Rusell could be charged with multiple crimes including making a false report and misdemeanor theft, in addition to possibly being forced to pay the cost of the investigation, according to former law enforcement officers and a lawyer.

Russell, 24, dialed 911 on July 13 at around 9:34 p.m. to report a toddler walking along the southbound side of Interstate 459 near Birmingham, Alabama, according to the Hoover Police Department.

She would return home on July 15 at around 10:45 p.m. near where police say she was seen walking along the sidewalk beforehand.

Russell’s attorney, Emery Anthony, said in an emailed statement to the Hoover Police Department that the 24-year-old admitted to never seeing a baby on Interstate 459 and was never a missing person.


Alabama woman Carlee Russell's car seen in traffic cam video

Hoover, Alabama police are reviewing traffic camera video from I-459 that shows Carlee Russell’s car, seen driving slowly in the emergency lane with warning lights, pull over before she went missing July 13.  (Courtesy: Hoover Police Department / TCA)

“My client did not have any help in this incident. This was a single act done by herself,” the statement said. “My client was not with anyone or any hotel with anyone from the time she was missing. My client apologizes for her actions to this community, the volunteers who were searching for her, to the Hoover Police Department and other agencies as well and to her friends and family.”

Former Washington, D.C., Homicide Detective Ted Williams told Fox News Digital that he believes Russell will at least be charged with making a false report to law enforcement.

“The possibilities are high that she will be charged with some kind of a criminal offense. If nothing else, other than making a false report to law enforcement,” Williams said. “You must think about the amount of money that was used or to investigate this matter. And remember, the investigation is still ongoing. And so you’re talking about using a lot of resources to investigate something that appears as of now to be a hoax.”

Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Jonathan Gilliam told Fox News Digital that Russell should be charged for the cost of the investigation.


Carlee Russell Googled the movie “Taken” before disappearing on July 13 along with a slew of other searches leading up to the moment where she told a 911 operator that she saw a toddler walking along a busy interstate. On Monday, police said she admitted the whole thing was a hoax. (Dana Mixer for Fox News Digital and Hoover Police Department)

“If they find out that she lied about this, she should, at a minimum, be charged for all the costs of the investigation for basically manufacturing this entire thing, which is a felony,” Gilliam said. “It’s no different than making up a story that your daughter disappeared or that somebody disappeared and wasting the time and effort and money of law enforcement.”

Eric Guster, an attorney in Birmingham, Alabama, told Fox News Digital that there needs to be “accountability” for Russell making a false police report.

“They could have arrested her Monday based on the information that they had, and they only chose not to,” Guster said.

When asked what Russell could be charged with, Guster said misdemeanor theft and making a false police report.

“If they find out that she lied about this, she should, at a minimum, be charged for all the costs of the investigation…”

— Ted Williams

“That’s the big problem that she has, the wave of attention and resources that were utilized for searching for her when she wasn’t actually missing,” Guster said.

During a press conference on Monday, Hoover Police Chief Nicholas Derzis said that officials still don’t know Russell’s whereabouts during the 49 hours she was missing.

“We still don’t know what happened in those 49 hours, where she was. Did she have any help? We have no idea,” Derzis said. “We wanted the focus to be, bring her home. She got home. We’re very excited about that.”


Alabama missing woman

While on the phone with the relative, Russell stopped talking but the line “remained open,” according to police.  (Hoover Police Department)

“That facts that I (spoke about) last Wednesday pretty much showed that we knew it was a hoax,” Derzis said.

Police earlier said that Russell took toilet paper and a bathrobe from the Woodhouse Spa Birmingham, her employer. She later picked up food for takeout and was later seen getting snacks at Target.

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